See what's on at the

Browse What's On

– Highlights

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Exhibition

Energies: Haines & Hinterding

25 Jun - 06 Sep

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Exhibition

Aleks Danko

30 Jul - 18 Oct

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Exhibition

Matthys Gerber

22 Sep - 06 Dec

Create and Learn at the

All Learning Programs

– Learning Events

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Conference

Dance, Theatre and Visual Art

20 Aug, 9.00am

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Aleks Danko & Tom Polo: Masterclass for teachers

29 Aug, 10.00am, Creative Studios National Centre for Creative Learning

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Talk

Exchange Series

31 Aug, 11.00am, Creative Studios National Centre for Creative Learning

Find out more about the

About the MCA

– News from inside the MCA

Digital Excursions; New Connections

Alex White reflects upon the newly launched program offerings and the possibilities these hold for students and teachers anywhere in Australia. more

Mug Shots

In preparation for the The Rocks Aroma Festival on July 26, MCA staff share some of the stories behind the mugs they use for their workplace beverages. more

MCA’s first Oculus Rift artwork experience

Don’t have enough (real) space to install artworks in? Why not make some virtual space! more

View the Collection

Browse Collection

– Spotlights from the collection online

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Volume One: MCA Collection

Works from the MCA Collection on display

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Remain in Light: Photography from the MCA Collections

On tour until October 2015

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ARTIST INTERVIEW

Watch our latest artist interview with Khaled Sabsabi

History of the site

The MCA is located on the traditional lands of the Gadigal people of the Eora nation. The site which is now called The Rocks was known then as Tallawoladah.

The site of the MCA on the western side of Circular Quay was the landing point of the First Fleet, a flotilla of eleven ships that carried convicts and soldiers from Britain to Australia in 1788. As such it is an extremely significant site in Australian history, marking the location of First Contact between Indigenous and European peoples, as well as the beginning of the country’s colonial history. During early settlement by the Europeans, they built houses, wharves, a gaol, a hospital and Commissariat Stores (established to administer supplies to the burgeoning population of convicts and soldiers) in the area now known as The Rocks. The Art Deco building which the MCA has occupied since 1991 was originally built for the Maritime Services Board, and stands on the site of the Georgian-era Commissariat Store designed by Lieutenant Colonel Foveaux.

The western side of Circular Quay also became a hub of boat building and naval trading activity. Important archaeological remains of the first government dockyard in Australia, established in 1797 by Governor John Hunter RN, lie underneath the new extension to the Museum.

North Sydney Council Historian Ian Hoskins suggests that the presence of a contemporary art museum on this site was an ‘ideal outcome – the creation of a threshold for ideas on a site that had long served as a threshold for people and goods; a place saturated with historical currency after two centuries of change, renewal and debate’.


The Site publication is now available for purchase through the MCA Store online.

Fergus Binns

Image: Fergus Binns Bennelong Heard First Fleet Through Shell 2006, oil on canvas board, Museum of Contemporary Art, donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by Henry Ergas, 2009, Image courtesy and © the artist